[Update: I’ve shut down the site after nearly a year of inactivity. No regrets — it was a good learning experience, and cost very little (aside from spare time).]
This summer I had an idea for a site where people could tag and discuss basic consumer items (like, say, boxes of pens, or breakfast cereal) the same way that they can discuss books or CDs on Amazon or tag web pages on del.icio.us. The first version of the site is now online here:
I’d be grateful if a few of my blog readers could try it out and give me their opinions (either in comments or by private e-mail). Here are some good starting points:
- Search for food
- View the tag cereal
- Look up the product with the barcode 0 11361 50506 6
- Grab a Web-2.0-y XML view of a product, with XLink links suitable for web crawling.
- Subscribe to the RSS 2.0 feed for a product’s comments.
I don’t intend this site as a competitor to the Internet UPC Database: my main goal is to let people share their own observations and opinions about consumer products (e.g. “these diapers don’t leak”, “brand X chocolate tastes better”), and to classify and, effectively, vote for products by tagging them, and the barcodes are only secondary to that. Likewise, sites like ScanBuy and Qode, which concentrate on using cell phones for on-the-spot price comparison, are also working in a different area: I want to give people a chance to share their own information, not provide point-of-sale information to them.
Definitely not a stealth startup
In his article Stealth Startups Suck, Bloglines founder Mark Fletcher wrote that “stealth mode for a web start-up is the kiss of death.” I’m taking Mark’s advice to heart: I first sketched out the idea for Newmatica Barcode on a notebook (the paper kind) in a cabin in Perce, Quebec on the Gaspe Peninsula 10 weeks ago, and now here’s a fully-functioning site for people to try. There has been no pre-announcement, no careful dispatch of advance information to industry mavens and investors, or anything like that — you, my blog readers, are the very first people outside my immediate family to hear of this project.
So please, try out the site, create an account, enter some products, do some commenting and tagging, and be patient if you encounter any bugs (I promise to fix them as fast as possible). I’m looking forward to hearing back from you soon.